Through my whirlwind 4 seasons as a bike racer, I’ve figured out that I need as much mental recovery from racing/training as much as I need physical recovery. If I skip that step, then I’ll end up in the same place I was when I broke down, quit the Metro VW team, and nearly threw my road bike in the Mississippi River in the process.
The lead-in to a big race like Southern Cross is not necessarily stressful. It just involves a lot of focus- eat right, train right, go to bed on time, etc. The race itself is both physically and mentally taxing. Physically… that’s obvious. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I know enough from past training that I was laying down a solid near/at/over threshold effort for every second of the 3 hours and 44 minutes of racing.
Mentally? Well, for starters, It’s a little scary to be putting that sort of effort out on the first climb. I’ve done it in the past, and it’s only resulted in heartbreak a la Southern Cross 2009 and Cohutta 2010. This time, I had to do it and have faith in both my pre-race training plan and my during-race eating plan. Later in the race, I had to keep yelling at myself to resist the urge to slow down. On the second climb, I ignored a lot of screaming from my legs. Everything but my brain was saying “chill… pace yourself… use the 34×26…”
When I crossed the finish line, I wanted to scream, laugh, cry, and sleep all at the same time. The mental release is pretty intense.
For the few days following, I tried my best to live “normally” instead of like a wannabe pro bike racer. I rode a little, ate pizza, and drank beer. It worked out well since we had a kickass open house planned at work. It was kind of a combination meet & greet for some of the new staff, chance to show off how insanely clean the shop is, and release party for our new stock of Niner bikes. Yep- you heard it right- Outdoors, Inc. is officially a Niner dealer now!
So the timing on that worked out well. Today I got up, milled around the house a bit, then went out for a 4 hour ride. My legs and my brain felt superb, and I made 70 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes at a zone 2 effort. Looking at my schedule on Training Peaks, I’m excited to see a killer block of training on the calendar. I feel the need to quote Charlie Sheen right now…